Lakeside will reach a milestone in its cultural life story on March 15: the 40th anniversary of first concert held at the Auditorio de la Ribera.
It was a gala performance by the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra (GSO) with internationally acclaimed soprano Lucila Sabela appearing as guest soloist.
The stellar evening that gave birth to what is still the community’s premier venue for cultural and civic events will be commemorated with a celebration concert on Thursday, March 15, 5 p.m. Free admission is limited to 425 persons who obtain tickets in advance, available only at the auditorium front desk Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The auditorium’s debut was the culmination of a prolonged and sometimes painful gestation. It was the result of an extraordinary effort that involved all three levels of the Mexican government and the community at large, united in a common cause.
It began with the formation of the Lake Chapala Festivals (LCF), an organization created with the aim of sponsoring fine musical events in the Chapala area. The group was spearheaded by Enid McDonald and Josephine Warren, two dynamic ladies who were congenial neighbors in the then newly developed Chula Vista subdivision.
The first festivals season opened in November 1972 with a series of programs held monthly at the Camino Real Hotel and the Chapala Yacht Club and a final concert by the GSO at Chapala’s San Francisco Church. It quickly became apparent that there was sufficient demand to merit the construction for an appropriate home for LCF.
McDonald and Warren teamed up with Chapala pharmacist and community leader Héctor Márquez to put out feelers to government officials. By October 1973 they had forged a pact for the municipal government to donate land for building a public theater and established a viable funding plan with LCF. The municipality agreed to match the state’s investment.
The cornerstone stone was laid by Governor Alberto Orozco Romero on December 10, 1974. A tentative opening date was set for September, 1976, near the end of the governor’s term in office. It was scratched at the last minute after the discovery that the smooth finishing on the building’s interior walls ruined the acoustics.
A second more serious setback arose the same month when a steep devaluation of the peso prompted the government to implement drastic austerity measures to reduce spending.
It would take another year and a half to work out all the kinks, complete the project and finally open the Auditorio’s doors. This year’s anniversary is reason for celebration.